Sunday, April 1, 2012

On Recreating Childhood

I have a friend who lives for her childhood.

She has spent much of her adult life dedicated to recreating the magic she experienced in those early years, and has channeled this through the meticulous purchasing of furniture to replicate that of her childhood home, filling her cabinets with familiar comfort foods, and watching re-runs of favorite Disney movies.

I describe this behavior as being associated specifically with her, but of course I know it is not. Of course I realize that many people, everywhere, do the same thing, to varying degrees. (While I in no way yearn to drag my parents' furniture into my bedroom, and am largely a "future-oriented" individual who is happy to leave the past well enough alone, I acknowledge the fact that I, too, have probably strived to recreate it in some way - namely, perhaps, my consumption of poached eggs, which take me back to summers spent with Grandma.)

For many of us, though, this "meticulous recreation" is what life is - a weaving and reweaving of one fabric; continuing on with the story that's established for us early on; and a filling-in of that initial outline. It's the reason we buy houses in the suburbs, the reason we still make turkey and greenbean casserole on Thanksgiving, and, yes, the reason we watch age-old favorite movies (whether The Lion King or The Christmas Story) in the moments we most want to be reminded of the associated memories.

This is how traditions are built. It's the way our sense of existence is defined.

It's these stories - their initial introduction, their acceptance, their embodiment at the individual level, and their willful, dutiful recreation - that serve as the narrative for our society.

And though I myself do not partake in the recreation with quite the same zeal with which my dear friend does, I acknowledge - and value - the role she plays in preserving our social fabric. I understand that, while some, like myself, commit themselves to the exploration of new meanings, new avenues, and the new context in which to tell a new part of our story, she - and many like her - are working hard to ensure the story's textiles hold strong.